THE ANR PLATFORM COUNTRY WIDE SENSITIZATION ON THE ANR POLICY 2009-2015 TARGETING THE REGIONAL TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEES (TAC’S)

THE ANR PLATFORM COUNTRY WIDE SENSITIZATION ON THE ANR POLICY 2009-2015 TARGETING THE REGIONAL TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEES (TAC’S)

Forest & Farm Facility (FFF) initiative funded by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and World Bank recently facilitated the ANR Platform to conduct a country wide sensitization on the Agriculture & Natural Resources Policy (ANR Policy 2009-2015) for the Technical Advisory Committees (TAC’s) at regional level. Previously, there was a country wide sensitization on the same policy targeting the regional governors, regional agricultural directors and forestry officers. Later on, this is to be followed by a country wide sensitization on the same policy at district level.

Thereupon, Mr. Kanimang Camara FFF National Facilitator, who doubles as the director for Natural Resources Consulting (NACO) underscored that as at now, global funding opportunities and investments are increasingly turning to forests and farms as a means of alleviating poverty, enhancing ecosystem services and mitigating and adapting to climate change. He went on to say that today about 30% of the world’s forests are managed by local people, either formally or informally and it is these local smallholder groups, women, community and indigenous peoples, that make many forest investments work on the ground.

Nonetheless, Mr. Camara emphasized that forest and farm smallholders are often marginalized from decision making processes and isolated from economic and market opportunities. Moreover, the effective delivery of investments into locally managed forests and farms is currently being hindered by a variety of challenges including; inadequate governance mechanisms, inadequate skills and capacities, limited access to market opportunities, lack of coordination amongst multiple funding streams, low awareness on the complexity and multiple values of forests.

Furthermore, Mr. Camara buttressed that the FFF is a 5yr programme that aims to promote sustainable forest and farm management by supporting local, regional, national and international organizations and platforms for effective engagement in policies and investments that meet the needs and aspirations of local people.

Thus the Technical Advisory Committees (TAC’s) were duly informed that the FFF is designed to support local groups and governments to respond to the aforementioned challenges using a two pronged approach: At local grass-root level – by facilitating strong and equitable partnerships amongst smallholders, communities and indigenous peoples, enabling them to make their voices heard in policy making processes at local, regional, national and global levels on forest landscape issues. In addition, the Facility also supports capacity building of local groups to unlock financial opportunities for investments in forest and farm development. At national level – by supporting governments to ensure that forestry is part and parcel of new and/or existing multi-sectoral platforms. This is done through enhanced dialogue, information and capacity building in order to better coordinate the various ministries, private sector and civil society stakeholders involved in, or affected by, policies and activities on forest landscapes.

Hitherto, FFF support the following; organization and capacity for policy dialogue engagement and access to financing and investment, Multi-sectoral stakeholder policy platforms at local and national levels and communication, dissemination of key information and learning and connecting local reality to global dialogue (REDD, FIP, FLEGT, Food security etc)

Mr. Alhagie Basse Mboge President of the National Farmers Platform of The Gambia (NFPG) and ANR Platform whilst addressing the participants emphasized that the overall goal of the ANR policy is the revitalization and development of the ANR sector anchored and crucially hinged on the assessment of and setting up of not too ambitious but realistic policy objectives that are attainable in the short, medium and long-term. Furthermore, Mr. Mboge said that mirroring on the political commitment and dedication of the Government, there will be no iota of doubt to the welfare transformation of ANR sector. He emphasized that strengthening and supporting farmer organizations is considered as the nucleus of the sector, therefore, in order to attain the strategic objectives of the ANR Policy by 2015, institutional support to farmers must be ensured.

In Kerewan, the Honourable Governor Lamin Queen Jammeh of North Bank Region (NBR) highlighted the necessity to enlighten the masses up to district level, on matters relating to the ANR policy. Since according to him, it’s a key instrument geared towards meeting the socio-economic needs of both the farmers and foresters and thereby reducing/ alleviating poverty. However, he was quick to stress on the importance of a mid-term review of the said policy and a review at least one year before the end/ expiry of the policy so as to address its weaknesses, constraints & challenges, gaps to fill and the way forward. In his concluding remarks, he advised the TAC’s to disseminate the knowledge gained to their colleagues and people at the grass roots. Likewise, similar sentiments were expressed by Hon. Babucarr Bouye Governor LRR, Hon. Kanimang Sanneh Acting Governor URR and Hon. Malang Saibo Camara Deputy Governor CRR.

Meanwhile, during the deliberations topics treated in the ANR Policy included its overview, policy objectives & provisions, Monitoring & Evaluation component, strategies to enhance popular participation in policy implementation and Resource Mobilization.

Thereafter, there were radio phone in programs in Brikama-Ba community radio on awareness raising on the Draft Wildlife Policy and Strategy for controlling “problem animals” on farmlands and in Kerewan Community radio on the ANR Policy 2009-2015.

Other speakers included Mr. Fafanding Kinteh, the regional programme officer of the NEA CRR, Mr. Alhagie Sanyang regional forestry officer CRR, Mr. Alkali Jarjusey of NACO, Mr. Lamin Sawaneh acting regional forestry officer LRR, Mr. Ndenneh Nying regional environment officer of the NEA NBR and Mr. Hassan M.S. Cham Councilor Newtown East Ward amongst others.

In addition, prior to conducting the series of Regional Awareness raising meetings on the ANR Policy, FFF supported a two day Market Awareness, Contact and Collaboration Fair for National Cashew Farmers Association and other actors along cashew value chain from the 24th to 25th October at the Rural Farmer Training Center in Jenoi at the Lower River Region. The meeting attracted 40 participants from producer groups, service and support institutions and the private sector.

Among the outcomes of the meeting included the following:

• That the producer groups are not organized and the need for support to address the institutional and structural issues of the groups is recognized;

• Capacity development programmes for the executive members of the groups on technical, group management and strengthening skills; and last but not the least

• Coordination of stakeholder efforts to increase market margins for the local communities involved in cashew farming

BY: MUHAMMAD LEROY A. GOMEZ

The Point Newspaper